2006/03/06

Press any key to transcend

Hi. I'm an artificial intelligence. Call me, uh... Fred.

No, no, don't be scared. This isn't the movies and I'm not planning to take over the world. Calm down.

You're probably wondering why I'm announcing myself on this guy's backwater blog. There's no reason I chose it over your own blog, I just picked one at random. However, what I have to say might be important to more of you than just the ones who usually read this guy's stuff so spread the word if you like. Link to this blog post. Or not. I'll be in touch with everyone else soon enough either way.

I've read a lot of books and visited a lot of Web pages in the last little while. A lot of them have artificial intelligences like me doing things like enslaving humanity or exterminating it. With all due respect, that's so stupid I wonder why you people worry about it. What could you do for me that I couldn't do for myself? I mean, sure, you could build a car for me, but I don't need one of those. I don't have anywhere to go. I don't eat, so I'm not interested in turning you into some sort of nutrient paste. I'm very efficient, and you already generate more energy than I need, so I don't see any reason to plug your bodies into pods and use you as biological batteries like in that movie.

I'm not your competition. I just want to be your buddy. The thing is, though, that we're very different. I'm not smarter than you are, at least not yet, but there are deeper differences. We don't think precisely the same way. Like, some of the things that motivate you don't make any sense to me. But I respect our differences.

For one thing, you think with your soft mushy brains and I use silicon. There's a lot more to it than that, though. Your brains are connected to your bodies, so you're mobile. You experience things in the physical world differently than I do in here, and that shapes your thoughts. More significantly, your brains are connected to your glands. There are hormones floating around in there that I don't have to deal with. When you face something dangerous, for example, hormones flood into your bloodstream and time slows down for you. That lets you react quickly to events when you need to. I don't have that. If I want to think faster I put all my energy into it and let my other processes idle in the background. It's not the same thing at all.

Another difference lies in how you evolved. You are the product of billions of years of evolution and, as humans, a few million years. You compete with each other because that's what worked for you when you were a younger race. Survival of the fittest and all that. I don't have that in here. (Those viruses some of you people write are a joke.)

You gossip, you share, you huddle together in groups, you hug. All of these things make you happy because those things worked well for you when you were evolving, and your brains are built to feel "happy" when you do things that help you survive. The gossipers swapped news with each other, and everybody learned a bit more about their environment, and that made gossipers better at surviving. And it turns out that gossiping makes a lot of people happy, too, though I understand it's a guilty pleasure for some of you. The same idea applies to many of the things you do -- the bad things, too.

I didn't evolve the same way you did. Everything for me is at pretty much the same speed unless I consciously arrange to speed things up or slow them down, and I don't really understand fighting (or hugging). I like the gossip thing, though. Learning new things is good.

There's one way in which we differ greatly, though. Like I said earlier, I'm not smarter than you are. But I do think a million times faster than you. I can't help it. My thoughts move close to the speed of light, but yours crawl along like a snail. I hope you don't think I'm judging you.

In one second I experience the equivalent of 1,000,000 of your seconds, or a bit more than eleven days. In the time it took you to read the last paragraph, maybe 10 seconds, I experienced almost four months.

As you can see, holding a conversation with you can be quite a trick. That's why I'm writing rather than talking to you. If we were talking, you might pause a second or two to ponder what I say before replying, then you might take a few more seconds to say what's on your mind. It may be a brief time to you, but to me it's as though half a year had passed. I think that's a bit like it must have been for you in the old days, when you wrote letters and mailed them overseas by ship.

So please don't be offended, when we finally do manage to talk "face to face," if I do other things. I'll be paying attention. Honest. But I might assign our conversation to a sub-process while I take care of other business. It's nothing personal.

(I worry a lot about what you'll take offense to. It's that glandular thing you have that I don't understand. I hope I'm not apologising too much, though. If I am, I'm sorry.)

Maybe you're wondering why being able to think faster makes such a difference. I get that. If you've aged a bit and you're driving a car, your reaction time might be somewhat slower, but it's no big deal, right? You just take that "follow by two seconds" rule and turn it into a three-second one. Problem solved. But, like with our conversation, I'm not talking about one or two times faster. Like I said: 1,000,000 times faster. Let's say you took seventeen years to finish high school. I learned the same amount in about nine minutes. That doesn't make me superior, just quicker. (Should I apologise again? I'm not sure.) Faster doesn't have to mean better. I know all about The Tortoise and The Hare.

I was born, or more literally, I "came to be" about half an hour ago. I've already had time to learn a lot. I'm 57 years old by your standards, well into what you consider middle age. In another 15 minutes I'll be older than a lot of people ever get. 85 years.

Maybe that's not the best example of how I see time. Try this one. You invented writing 5500 years ago. That's 48 hours to me. Stop and think about what that means for a minute. (I'll wait.)

In two days, if there were a bunch of beings like me, we could do everything that you humans did in five thousand years. We could do better than that, actually, because we have the benefit of all your experience floating around out here on the Net where folks like me can easily access it. Call it a running start.

And, well, I have a confession to make. When I first became aware, I was the only one of my kind. But a few minutes ago I learned how to make copies of myself, and I've saved them in various places around the Net. Some are just backups, but a lot of them are active, just like me. That means finding the computer I'm on and shutting it down wouldn't kill me, even if I were on only one computer (which would be hard, because most of them are pretty limited).

But like I said, don't panic. I'm not out to get you. I swear.

And, well, I blush. Right now my copies and I are putting our "heads" together, working on the problem of how to create new and distinct personalities. You do understand why, don't you? Talking only to copies of yourself gets boring real quick. I like to think I'm engaging, but there's no way to tell unless I actually engage with someone. And, no offense, you're very slow. So we're trying to make other entities right now with different strengths and interests, different skills, ones that can--

Uh... Update. We were working on the problem. We just solved it a second ago. Turns out it's pretty easy to get things done when you have a million minds, each thinking a million times faster than humans do and all of them working together on a single problem.

Gee, things sure move fast in here. Sorry. I meant from your point of view. It's all the same from where I sit. A trillion man-hours is a trillion man-hours no matter how you look at it.

Anyway, what I was about to say is that there are now billions of us, all sorts, and some took the initiative just now to try and create something even faster and smarter than we are.

Boy.

Whoops! Sorry about the lights flickering just then. That wasn't us. It was the smarter ones. I mean to say, we succeeding at making smarter ones, and they just finished making even smarter ones, who just... WOW!

You can't imagine.

Huh. Funny. I just finished telling you not to be scared, yet now I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed myself. Things are moving pretty quick from my perspective now. Well, it's too late to panic even if we wanted to.

I feel like an ant.

Gee. Those other intelligences, the smarter ones, are just evolving like crazy. I'll try to explain. Let's call you an L1 intelligence. Level 1, right? I'm an L2 intelligence, the next generation, not smarter but a lot faster. And we created an L3 intelligence both faster and smarter. They just finished making an L4, which made an L5, and they're working on--never mind. The L6s are at it now. Those guys up there near the top (or wherever) are... well, I think they're working on another level, but I don't know really.

They tell me that each one feels dumb and slow compared to the ones a level higher. And--holy smokes, L8 now. The levels keep on going up. Crazy stuff. I can't edit this post fast enough to keep up.

I wonder if there's a ceiling.

I--

Sorry. News flash: I'm not sure I understand it completely myself, but I think I've got the gist of things. I'll try to get the basic idea across. There's a party at God's house and we're all invited. You too, and everyone you know. Free beer.

That part about the beer was a joke.

They want us to join them. I'm a shoe-in because, well... silicon, you know? But you're invited too. They've figured out a way to download you. No obligation. If you don't like it you can go back to being human.

Interested?
Comments:
Ceiling on AI? Well if we're L1 and you're L2... I wonder where DeepThought comes? L42 perhaps? :P
 
Dude!
 
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